The pizza-loving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have returned to the big screen, but is the newest iteration of the story a satisfying movie?
The film, which is in theaters now, centers on four turtles who are expert fighters and are trained in martial arts by their rat mentor Splinter. Actor Johnny Knoxville voices the turtle Leonardo while actor Pete Ploszek plays him; Jeremy Howard of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” portrays Donatello; “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” actor Alan Ritchson plays Raphael; and “Shameless” actor Noel Fisher plays Michelangelo. Actress Megan Fox portrays reporter and Turtles ally April O’Neil, while “The Lego Movie” actor Will Arnett plays the part of Vernon Fenwick, April’s cameraman. “Turtles” is directed by Jonathan Liebesman, who was also behind such movies as the 2012 film “Wrath of the Titans.”
“Turtles” hit theaters today, but so far its critical reception has not been good. The movie currently holds a score of 34 out of 100 on the review aggregator website Metacritic.
Washington Post critic Sandie Angulo Chen wrote that “some 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' devotees may be appeased by Paramount’s fairly faithful film reboot of their beloved reptilian superheroes,” but she believed that “more are likely to be disappointed to discover that the talking Turtles have been reduced to sidekicks to the actual focus of this film … Megan Fox…. When the film moves past Fox to focus on the Turtles, the heroes in a half shell are undeniably impressive in ninja mode…. And the Turtles themselves are charming enough, even though there’s not much time invested in their personalities … while this reboot is fun, it’s also forgettable and occasionally infuriating.”
Los Angeles Times reviewer Mark Olsen also found that the movie focused too much on Fox’s character, writing that “the turtles often feel left in the background of their own movie.” He was also impressed with the look of the turtles, writing that they are “lively and pretty lifelike,” but that “the biggest problem with the movie is it can never quite decide who it's for or why it exists."
Meanwhile, USA Today critic Claudia Puig was even less impressed, calling the film “charmless, dull and derivative.”
“Perhaps this version … will hold some shred of appeal for folks who fondly remember watching the animated anthropomorphic reptiles on TV in the '80s and '90s, or for young kids,” she wrote. “But most will find it frenetic, overblown and un-exciting…. The four classically named chelonians are devoid of much personality, making them tough to tell apart.”